The Delhi government may have zeroed in on the legislation under which it will penalise those who violate its odd-even number scheme, which will come into effect on January 1. The traffic police has told the Delhi government that no law has to be amended to penalise violators as it already has the power to levy a fine under existing laws, said sources.
The government is examining three different legislations — the Motor Vehicle Act, the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981.
Sources indicated that while no decision has been arrived at on the penalty, it is likely to be a heavy fine. Challans requiring prosecution and court appearances will be done away with. The fine, however, will have to be hefty in order to act as a deterrent, added the sources.
Discussions over the law under which the odd-even scheme will work, dominated meetings held by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday.
The quantum of penalty and the nature of prosecution was also discussed.
Kejriwal held a slew of meetings with stakeholders such as the transport department, traffic police, Delhi Transport Corporation and the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation on Tuesday. Meetings were also held by transport minister Gopal Rai, head of the steering committee for tackling the pollution problem Satyendar Jain and minister Kapil Mishra.
Sources said ministers and transport officials have been weighing their legal options for the implementation of the odd-even rules.
“Everyone was worried that the Delhi Motor Vehicle Rules coming would come under the Motor Vehicles Act, which is a central act. Amendments to this Act can be made only by the Centre and there is a slim chance the BJP will go ahead to help the Kejriwal government,” said a government official.
However, constitutional expert Sanjay Hegde said the government could pass an amendment to the Rules by an executive order.
The power of enforcement and quantum of penalty or prosecution also lies with the state government because the Rules are delegated legislation, he said. Therefore, the Centre does not need to step in at all, he added.
Otherwise, Section 115 of the law gives a window of one month for restrictions to be imposed on vehicles. “Power to restrict the use of vehicles — The state government or any authority authorised in this behalf by the state, if satisfied that it is necessary in the interest of public safety or convenience…(may) prohibit or restrict… the driving of motor vehicles or of any specified class or description… Provided that where any prohibition or restriction under this section is to remain in force for not more than one month”.
A source said the government was also considering the Air (Prevention & Control of Pollution) (Union Territories) Rules, 1983.
Sources said the Rules are enforced and overseen by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee. The environment secretary has powers to direct any law enforcing body to carry out prosecutions. “We can direct traffic police to prosecute offenders and violators under this Act. Police can issue challans which would be sent to court. The quantity of fines would be decided by the court according to each case,” said an official.
Government officials were also in two minds over the quantum of fines and nature of prosecution.
“If the penalty is small, like it is for other traffic violations, the odd-even rule will be violated by many. But if it is set very high, the effect it will have on citizens and the anger it might spark is a matter of concern as well,” said the official.